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Study links education to risk of cancer death
Date:9/11/2007

ast cancer death rates than those with less education, reversing the historical pattern that more-educated women were more likely to develop and die of breast cancer because of delayed childbirth and other reproductive risk factors. This change may reflect in part the increasing importance of early detection and timely and appropriate treatment in preventing deaths from breast cancer.

Our study shows socioeconomic factors, as measured by years of education, play an important role in the risk of dying of cancer, said Elizabeth Ward, Ph.D., American Cancer Society director of surveillance research and study co-author. The relationships between socioeconomic status and race are complex and the strengths of the relationships we see depend in large part on what is measured in particular studies. Although this study measured differences in cancer mortality by individual level of education and race, the observed disparities likely result from multiple factors that influence health and health care at the individual, community and national level. Differences in cancer mortality by level of education should continue to be measured and used to track progress as we work to eliminate health disparities.

The study adds to the body of evidence that cancer disparities result from by social and economic factors that are, at least in principle, preventable. The authors say these differences likely reflect relationships between education and other factors that are more directly associated with risks of developing and dying from cancer, such as tobacco use, cancer screening and access to timely and appropriate healthcare. Higher cancer mortality among blacks compared to whites at similar levels of education likely reflect differences in educational and employment opportunities, income, housing, overall standard of living, and access to medical care that are not fully captured by the single measure of socioeconomic status (i.e. years of education) available for their
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Contact: David Sampson
david.sampson@cancer.org
American Cancer Society
Source:Eurekalert

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